March 30th, 2012
01:57 PM ET

You're not going to win Mega Millions jackpot

“Never tell me the odds.”
Han Solo in "The Empire Strikes Back"

Look. We know that you're aware the odds of winning Friday night’s record-breaking $640 million Mega Millions jackpot, or any Mega Millions jackpot, are astronomical.

We also know that for the people who win it, the odds matter not one bit. Someone is going to win at least a share of the prize if not Friday, then in some subsequent drawing. But since we’re covering the historic jackpot and showing people in long lines giddily talking about how many cars or yachts or Dippin' Dots they’d buy if they win, we feel compelled to remind you:

It’s not going to be you.

The odds of a ticket winning a Mega Millions jackpot is 175,711,536 to 1. As Han Solo’s talkative robotic friend would tell you, you have a much, much better chance (1 in 3,720!) of navigating an asteroid field successfully. We didn’t exactly vet that, but you know you’d smash your ship into the rocks. And who are we to question protocol droids fluent in more than 6 million forms of communication?

To hammer home the point, here are a few other unlikely scenarios that, we’re sorry to say, are far more likely than you taking home a jackpot.

From the Harvard School of Public Health:

Chances of dying from a bee sting: 1 in 6.1 million. Chance you will win the Mega Millions jackpot: 1 in 175.7 million.

Chance you will be die from being struck by lightning: 1 in 3 million. Chance you will win the Mega Millions jackpot: 1 in 175.7 million.

From the University of Maryland Medical Center:

Chance of having conjoined twins: 1 in 200,000. Chance you will win the Mega Millions jackpot: 1 in 175.7 million.

From U.S. Hole in One, which insures golf prizes for holes in one:

The chance of an amateur golfer making a hole in one on a par-3 hole is about 1 in 12,500. Chance you will win the Mega Millions jackpot: 1 in 175.7 million.

The chance of a golfer hitting a hole in one on consecutive par-3 holes: 1 in about 156 million. Chance you will win the Mega Millions jackpot: 1 in 175.7 million.

From a 2011 State Farm study on collisions between vehicles and deer:

 The chance of hitting a deer with a vehicle in Hawaii, the state where State Farm says deer-vehicle collisions are least likely, is 1 in 6,267. Chance you will win the Mega Millions jackpot: 1 in 175.7 million.

From the National Weather Service:

The chance of being struck by lightning over an 80-year lifetime: 1 in 10,000. Chance you will win the Mega Millions jackpot: 1 in 175.7 million.

From the Florida Museum of Natural History, based on U.S. beach injury statistics in 2000:

Chance of drowning and other beach-related fatalites: 1 in 2 million. Chance you will win the Mega Millions jackpot: 1 in 175.7 million.

Chance of being attacked by a shark: 1 in 11.5 million. Chance you will win the Mega Millions jackpot: 1 in 175.7 million.

What are the odds you will win? Weigh in below, or on Twitter using #whataretheodds.

soundoff (1,701 Responses)
  1. Joe

    I played 1,2,3,4,5,6. Folks in my office thought it was crazy, as that combo would "never" hit, but the odds are exactly the same as any randomly generated 6 numbers. The downside to my approach is that, if I win, I will likely be splitting the winnings with a bunch of smart-aleck statistics professors.

    March 30, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  2. sarah

    One ticket makes sense if you want to have fun. But your odds don't improve with more than one. Don't turn it into a hardship for yourself and be happy for the winner.

    March 30, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Stats

    If the net prize is, say $500 million and the odds of winning are 175,711,536 than the expected value of a single $1 ticklet is approximatelt $2.84 so, barring multiple winners, buying a ticket is actually a good investment from a purely statistical standpoint.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Justme222

    If I win, I'm going to buy CNN and fire everyone, including the author of this article.....he'll be first actually.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  5. peter

    hmmm..something tells me that the author of this article has played the lottery a few times ago and is a sore loser. At least this is some good news for a change..

    March 30, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ed

    Bought five dollars worth of really enjoyable anticipation. That's a good deal.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ellen

      Exactly! I bought $2's worth and have had way more than $2's worth of fun.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Al

    Since you are so negative, if I win I will not give anything to you. I could give you a few millions, but because of this article you won't get any. How about that: what are the odds I'll change my mind??

    March 30, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. kevininjc

    :-) I can only hope that the person(s) who eventually win the jackpot read this article. It might make for a Piers Morgan segment.

    PS – Yes, I've bought a ticket, expect that in all likelihood I won't win it. But, eventually, someone is going to win it.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. charlie

    Hey, US population is about 313 Million people. Someone's got to win tonight. Martin Luther King has said "I have a DREAM". Well, me too, and also many others too. A chance is a chance no matter win or not. But if you don't buy a ticket. you don't have a chance!
    Good Luck to everyone who bought ticket(s).

    March 30, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Joe Fattal

    How it would cost to wheel all numbers?.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  11. politicsnot

    shut up you're ugly

    March 30, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Steve427

    Hey, CNN actually wrote something FACTUAL for a change!

    March 30, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. chris

    CNN trying to suppress lottery turnout. How very racist of them.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Bart

    Hey let's go tell a bunch of kids there is no Santa Clause while we're at it too!

    March 30, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ptrue

    There is someone out there who WILL win the lottery, who WOULD NOT be the winner if they listened to you.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
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